writing

Providence – A Short Story

For the past few months, I’ve been struggling to work on my in-progress novel, TBH. It’s not that I’m at a loss for where the story is heading, but for some reason, I just can’t work on it.  It’s been a little frustrating not to write, so yesterday I decided to just sit down and see where this little seed of an idea would take me, and this short story is the end result.

Providence

by Melissa L. Colon

The tall grass tickles against my leg as we creep through the hammock. My feet sink into the muck with each step, mud oozing between my toes, clinging desperately to my skin. It squeals and squeaks in complaint as I pull each foot free, and we continue this dance, the muck and I, on our way to the Tuskawilla River. Beside me, Bran does the same, walking between me and the stream. We don’t dare walk in the tannins filled spring water, where Alligators lay in wait. While docile unless hungry, they can startle easily, and their massive jaws, once locked on their prey, are deadly. Bran stops, pointing soundlessly at an enormous Alligator, perhaps seven or eight feet long, lying along the opposite side of the banks, sunning itself in the late winter morning. It lays still, as if it doesn’t have a care in the world, but its eyes are open, staring our way.  My breath catches at the sight of it, and I fight the urge to wipe away the beads of sweat that are building at my temple, as the sun’s rays reach through this patch of forest, beating down relentlessly on us.  Bran grips his walking stick tighter, pulling it from the muck as we begin moving forward again, our eyes warily on the beast that could take us down without much notice, but as we go, the Alligator closes its eyes, as if sensing we aren’t anything to fear.   We continue on like this, stopping from time to time, navigating exposed root systems, climbing over downed trees, or surveying the woods for other four-legged threats, but soon we’re at The Crossing.

The Crossing is the scariest part of the journey so far for me. I never like wading through the murky, brown water.  Besides the big beasts, enormous, venomous snakes live in this section of the hammock as well, and I’m glad Bran is with me.  I’ve never made this journey alone, but Bran has and returned to tell his tale of adventures many times.  As if he knows I’m thinking of him, or maybe he just senses my trepidation, he smiles down at me.  His brown hair, wet from the humidity and heat, hangs in his face, almost hiding his bright blue eyes, but I see the twinkle in them as he looks at me.  He turns his attention back to The Crossing, poking his stick into the brown water, churning up the silt, making it harder to see what lurks beneath, but he seems satisfied that nothing is waiting to pull us under and turns to me once more.

“It’s safe, Cailey.  But you can ride on my back if you’d like.”  He waits for my decision, offering neither judgment or encouragement.

Taking a deep breath, I whisper, “I’ll walk.”

Bran nods, stepping into the water without hesitation, and I follow, suppressing the urge to gasp at the coolness of the water.  The Crossing is fed by an underwater spring, not far from where we are, so the temperature, even in the shadow of the Great Trees, is a welcome coolness on this oppressive morning.  If it weren’t for the dangers all around, I would stand there all day, but Bran moves forward, and I follow behind, his stick pushing away rocks, and frightening away fish and other creatures.  Once we’re on the other side, we head away from the stream, farther into the hammock, where other animals await.  Small, furry-tailed rodents dart up trees, and a larger bandit faced one wakes long enough from his hovel to confirm we aren’t a threat.  Rumors of the wild dogs and big cats keep my eyes sharp, but we have yet to encounter either of them, and I’m glad.  The hammock gives way to the ruined road, exposing the old civilization to us, and it is just the beginning of the sights that interest me along the way.  I know not to step on the road.  It’s cracked, gray and black surface burn bare feet, especially on a day like today. Bran’s steps become lighter now, more hurried, but I lag behind, staring at where the road ends.

“Can we go?” I ask Bran, my voice betraying my excitement.  I’ve only been once, and it seems like a lifetime ago now.

“Just for a few minutes.”  I know I’m asking a lot of him, delaying him on our journey, but there might be something inside.  Something I haven’t seen in, well, forever, it seems like.

Together, we walk alongside the ruined road, following it to the remains of a brick building.  It was a School once, whatever that means. Grass and weeds have taken over most of the property, bright purple flowers pushing their way through cracks in the road.  School appears to be sealed up tight.  Doors with no windows are on the side closest to us.  We walk to the back, and I see what Bran tells me was the Playground, buried in the tall grass.  He warns me not to go out there, and even though I want to see what this thing called a Playground is, I know I need to listen to him, or he’ll pull me away, and back on track to our mission.  Bran leads me to a door, pointing to the dirt covered shards of glass that have been laying on the ground forever.

“Don’t step on any of that,” he says, pushing what he can out of the way with his stick before ducking through the door and into the building. I slip in behind him, and he pushes me to the side of a long hallway before calling out, “Hello?  Is anyone here?”

His voice echoes and then silence returns as an answer, so we wander together down the halls of School. This is the first time I’ve been inside, so I peek excitedly into each room, wondering about the dusty furniture left behind.  They sit in neat little rows, like soldiers waiting to be called to duty.  There are chairs next to these four-legged, tiny tables, and I ask Bran about them.

“Desks,” he answers.  “Students used to sit at them, while the Teacher taught them lessons.”

“Oh.”  I ponder his reply, staring into the room.  School is a learning place.  I hadn’t understood that before now.  “It seems very formal.”

“I think it was,” he tells me, knowing I’m comparing this setting to the way we learn in our village.  “I think some settlements may still teach like this, but I don’t know.”

I nod, following Bran further into School.  He smiles down at me as he stops in front of another open door. “I think you’ll like this.”

We enter, and I stop as I see what this room is.  Even though the roof has collapsed on a large portion of it, there are ancient books in here, some still in decent condition.  I can’t contain my excitement as I hurry to where they are lined up next to each other, and pull first one, and then another, from the shelf, holding them close so I can see their covers in the dim light. In the village, we only have a few books, and I’ve read them all so many times, that they are starting to fall apart.

“Can I take some?” I ask, and he nods, walking over to another shelf to check some out for himself.

Yanking my knapsack from my back, I pull it open and survey the contents, trying to decide how many books will fit inside.  I think maybe six or seven if I arrange everything right, and turn to the shelves again, getting lost in so many choices.

“Hurry up,” Bran says as he stuffs a few in his bag as well.  “We need to get going.”

I grab the books and shove them inside, but they won’t all fit. Quickly, I pull out my change of clothes, my lunch, and my water skin, rearranging everything, but it still won’t close.  A sigh of frustration escapes me, and Bran kneels beside me, grabbing two of the books I’ve chosen, and places them in his own pack.

“Thanks,” I say, smiling up at him as he nods.

“Can we go now?”  He words it in the form of a question, but it’s not, and I close my pack, getting to my feet as I sling it over my shoulder.  The weight of the books is going to make my joints ache soon, but it’s worth it, and soon we’re out of School and back on track.  We are only in the woods for a few moments before we’re amid the ruins again.  This one is called Neighborhood and people used to live here.  What’s left of their homes intrigue me, but I’ve wasted all the time I could at School and know better than to ask to look inside any of these relics.  Side by side we pass between two of the houses, and just behind it is the river. A canoe sits tied to an old dock, and that’s our destination.  As we get closer, the splashing sound of a startled Alligator catches my attention, and my heart starts beating faster in anticipation of our time on the river. Our history books tell us that the river used to be a lake, over-filled with Alligators, but after the Great Storming Time, when the waters rose, and the people fled, all of the lakes became interconnected into one giant river that travels south to the decimated village of Bourne, and north all the way to trading city of Jack.

Bran leads the way, pulling the canoe close, and tossing his pack in before turning and motioning to me.  “Get in.”

He reaches for my hand, and when we touch, a slight tingle escapes like a shot, heading straight up my fingers and settling in my heart and belly simultaneously.  Bran looks at me as if he’s felt it too, and for a moment I hope he has.  I climb into the canoe, moving carefully onto the seat farthest out, settling my pack next to his, and grabbing one of the oars. Bran slides the boat into the water and climbs in behind me, using the other paddle to push us away from the dock. We glide effortlessly into the river, working as a team to point our canoe northward.  A welcome breeze tumbles down upon us, and I shake my head slightly, willing the air underneath my dark brown hair.  This river, though dangerous, winds through some of the most beautiful scenery, and as much as I concentrate on the rhythmic strokes of my oar, I can’t help but take in the few Alligators floating like logs on the water. A family of Otters plays along the banks, and a Black Bear drinks from the shore not far from them.  Raptors dive for lunch, coming down with talons splayed, and a moment later, their fierce wings flapping furiously, a wide-eyed fish dying in the sky.  We pass under the remains of a bridge, it’s span a shadow from the sun for just a moment, before we’re back out in its streaming rays once more.

“I need to get my hat,” I tell Bran, settling the oar on my lap as I lean forward and rummage through my pack, careful not to lose any of my books or get them wet.  A moment later, I have it, and I settle the wide-brimmed straw hat on my head, pulling the tiny strings under my chin and securing them there.  Sliding my oar back into the water, we continue on, making good time to our destination.

***

It’s late afternoon when we near the shores of Providence.  The last time I was here, I was just a little girl, and the memories of that time assault me like a pesky Mud Dauber. Shoving the thoughts back down where they came from, I help steer the canoe to one of the smaller docks, and Bran carefully hops out, tying the boat up before I hand him his pack and mine.  He drops them on the wooden planks and grabs my elbow as I stand, helping me get from the canoe to the dock without falling into the water.  Providence is much bigger than our village, with several dirt-covered streets laid out in a crisscross fashion.  Wooden sidewalks link the buildings together nearest to the docks, and as I watch the people walking along them, I’m suddenly self-conscious about my appearance.  We’ve traveled all day, and the heat and humidity have made my hair stick to my face and neck.  When I look down at my hands, I see the dirt covering them, and my feet look even worse. My dress is plain and filthy as well, and I worry that the people of Providence will be repulsed by me.

“Maybe I’ll wait here,” I say to Bran, stopping in my tracks and turning back to the shore.  “To make sure no one steals the canoe.”

“No one will steal it,” he says, reaching for my hand, lacing his fingers in mine.  “Besides, we’re not going back until tomorrow.”

I nod, remembering, but I still can’t force my feet to move forward into the crowd of well-dressed people.  Bran follows my gaze, and it’s as if he can read my mind because he says, “It’s okay.”

He pulls me along through the streets, but I can’t tell where we are going because I keep my head down, afraid to see the looks that anyone we pass might give me.  When we finally stop, I glance up at the building before us.  It’s a house for The Motherless.  People like us, and Bran pulls on the rope, ringing the bell at the front door.  When it opens, a kindly woman stands in the doorway, and Bran introduces us to her.

“Come in, come in,” she says.  “I’ve been expecting you.  Was it a rough journey?”

“It wasn’t too bad,” Bran tells her.

“Well,” she looks us over, and I lower my eyes to the floor once more as she says, “I bet you’d both like a bath and a meal.”

“Yes, please,” Bran answers, and I whisper a thank you as we follow her through the house.  The heavenly smell of whatever our dinner is going to be wafts through the air as she leads us through the kitchen and outside.  The yard is fenced in and behind a row of skinned logs is a real copper bathtub, with water already waiting in it.

“Who wants to go first?” she asks and Bran offers to let me, so I nod shyly and follow the woman to the relative privacy of the bath.

“What’s your name again, Honey?” she asks as I tug at my dress, pulling it off and placing it on a hook drilled into one of the logs.

“Cailey,” I whisper, shy around this stranger who is about to see me in a way very few people ever have.

“That’s a pretty name,” she says.  “How old are you?”

I shake my head and answer, “I’m not sure.  Maybe fifteen.”

She seems surprised by my answer, and I know it’s because I’m not very tall.  Bran, who I know is seventeen, towers over me, and most people in our village forget that I’m almost of age because of my petite nature.

“Well, I’m Mrs. Peale, in case you didn’t get my name before.” She motions me to a stump, where I sit down, pulling my shift tight around me as the evening wind stirs. “Let me scrub the dirt off your feet first. Otherwise, your bath water won’t be very pleasant.”

I watch as she dips a small brush into the water, then reaches for one of my feet.  I’m embarrassed by the way they look, but if she’s disgusted by them, she doesn’t let on as she carefully runs the brush against, first the tops, and then the bottoms of both feet, loosening all the grime and muck from today’s travels.

“Did you see anything interesting on your journey?” she asks and I hesitate before I answer.

“A School,” I finally say, looking down at her as she glances up at me.  Her face is soft and round, her eyes compassionate, and I wonder how she came to work for The Motherless.  I want to ask her, but I’m afraid it will upset her.

“A School,” she repeats as if that’s the most fascinating thing in the world.  “That is interesting indeed.”

“There were books,” I whisper, letting her in on the secret, but not the fact that I have seven of them in my pack and Bran’s.

She pauses for a moment and then gets back to scrubbing, but as she works she asks, “You can read?”

“Yes,” I answer.  “Not very well, but good enough.”

“That’s good,” Mrs. Peale answers.  She pats my feet and says, “I think you’re ready.”

I pull my shift off and slip into the water, sighing at the way the warmth tingles against my skin.  Mrs. Peale hands me a bar of soap and reaches for my clothes, taking them to a washing barrel to soak.  She disappears into the house as I run the soap over my arms, down my skinny legs, and then across my chest.  I spend several minutes scrubbing dirt out from under my fingernails before I finally start soaping up my hair.  Kneading my scalp with my fingertips feels lovely, and I duck under the water several times before my hair is squeaky clean.  Mrs. Peale returns just as I’m finishing up with a towel, a new shift, and a dress that is probably one of the prettiest things I’ve ever seen.

“I think these will fit you,” she says as she helps me from the water. She turns her attention to the tub while I dress, pulling the plug and letting the water drain into the narrow trough underneath it.  I watch with interest as the water flows at an angle away from the house and into the yard. When the water from my bath is gone, she replaces the plug and by that time I’m dressed.

Bran steps out of the house with several buckets to fill the tub again, but he stops as he sees me, and smiles gently at me. He leans in as I pass him, whispering, “You look very pretty.”

A warmth I’ve never known fills me, settling in unexpected places, and I almost skip back into the house behind Mrs. Peale.

“Let me help you with your hair,” she offers, and I nod, settling into the chair she pulls out for me, waiting as she carefully combs out my hair, pulling gently on various tangles, and for a moment, another memory, one similar to this, washes over me, and I fight back the tears that have unexpectedly ignited out of nowhere.  When she’s done, Mrs. Peale heads to a shelf and selects several plates, handing them to me and pointing me into a dining room with a long table, covered by a soft, white tablecloth.  I set the plates in front of each chair, and come back into the kitchen to see what else I can do to help Mrs. Peale.  As she hands me wooden spoons, each one made painstakingly perfect, laughter echoes through the house as the front door opens.  Children of various ages come streaming into the kitchen along with a man that I guess might be Mr. Peale.  As she points the kids to the sink to wash up, Bran appears in clean clothes, just a tad bit big on him, and his dark hair hangs in his face as it always does.  Introductions with the other Motherless are made, and we settle into the chairs in the dining room as Mr. and Mrs. Peale take the seats at the head and foot of the table. One of the children says grace, and soon the pot with a savory stew makes its way around to each of us.  I watch as the children take one heaping spoonful from the pot and do the same, passing it to Bran who is sitting next to me. Then, a plate of homemade bread is handed to me, and I take one, anxious to sink my teeth into this incredible smelling meal.

Bran makes small talk with Mr. Peale, and the children tell Mrs. Peale about their day in the fields.  It’s hard to follow all the conversation, and between the bath, my filled belly, and the journey, my eyes inadvertently close as I start to nod off. Laughter startles me awake, and I grin good-naturedly at the kids.

“Why don’t I show you where you’re going to sleep tonight,” Mrs. Peale says, and after she assures me that she doesn’t need any assistance cleaning up, I agree.

I follow her up the stairs to a room with four wooden beds lined up in a row.  They’re just big enough for someone my size and for a moment, I wonder how Bran will fit into one of these.   Mrs. Peale says goodnight, and once she’s gone, I slip out of the pretty dress, hanging it on a hook next to the bed, and climb under the patchwork quilt.  As soon as my head hits the pillow, I’m fast asleep, dreaming of the wild hammock near our village and of Bran’s smile.

***

It’s early morning when the girls wake up, the sun barely streaming through the windows.  Hearing them move about the room, I decide to get up too and grab the dress Mrs. Peale gave me, pulling it on and holding the fabric close to my nose, taking in the unusual, fresh scent.  I follow the girls downstairs to the dining room where breakfast already awaits. It’s some sort of porridge mixture, but it tastes good, and there are biscuits to go with it.  As Mr. Peale and the kids head out to their fields, Bran and I clean up for Mrs. Peale before we get ready to go.

“Your clothes are clean and dry,” Mrs. Peale tells us, and as Bran grabs his to go change, Mrs. Peale says to me, “You can keep that dress.  I also have something else for both of you.”

We follow her to the front porch and there, waiting for us, are boots.  “I’m guessing they’ll fit you.”

Bran grins, and I can’t help but hug Mrs. Peale around the waist. “Thank you!”

“Come back any time,” she says, as we head into town, clean, fed, and well rested.

Reaching for my hand, Bran pulls me close, his heart beating in concert with mine for just a moment, before he releases me.  We pass several storefronts until we find the one that Bran’s looking for.

“Can I help you?” the man behind the counter asks.

“You have an order waiting for us,” Bran tells him.  “For Spring Hammock.”

“Oh, yes,” the shopkeeper replies.  “Follow me.”

He leads us into a side room, and points to several cloth bags, tied shut with rope, and says, “That’s yours.”

Bran reaches into his knapsack and pulls out a pouch filled with coins and hands them over.  The shopkeeper looks inside and seems satisfied with the amount, nodding that we can take the goods.  Bran grabs several of the bags, and I take the remaining two, and together, weighed down with the supplies our village needs to get us through the next few months, we follow the dirt road down to the docks.  Our little canoe is waiting for us, and Bran gets me settled into the boat first, our knapsacks go up in front of me, and he tucks the supply bags behind me.  Once he gets in, we push away from the dock, leaving Providence behind.  It’s a long day ahead of us on the river, but as we paddle in unison, my thoughts wander to the events of the last twenty-four hours, and the day spent with Bran.

***

We’re almost to the dilapidated dock we left from yesterday when I see several of our villagers waiting for us.  They’ll help us haul our goods home, and it surprises me that I’m sad to see them, but I realize it’s because I’ve enjoyed this time alone with Bran, and it’s about to end.

As if he senses my thoughts, or possibly he feels the same way, he leans forward slightly and whispers, “I hope you can come along next time.”

A smile breaks through my features, and I nod happily as I answer, “I’d like that.”

The End

writing

The Bramble Door

Behind the Bramble Door,
I’m waiting to see.
Who lives within its halls,
Does she look like me?
Movement in the shadows,
Tells me she is near.
Whispered voices calling,
“There is nothing to fear.”
A furrowed brow, an endless scowl,
As she sees my face.
Everything about her cries out to me,
“This is not your place.”
For beyond the Bramble Door exists,
Secrets known to none.
The voices turn to anger,
Screaming loudly, “Run!
So run I do, through the woods,
Across a covered bridge.
Down the vale, up a hill,
To sit upon the ridge.
I collect my thoughts, they’ve scattered so,
I’m lonely and confused.
I thought behind the Bramble Door,
Lived my missing muse.
I brush the dirt off my dress,
And scramble to my feet.
Wherever she’s gone, it’s far away,
So for now, I will retreat.
Updates, writing

Catching Up – 11/27/18​

I’m still not doing a good job of updating this site on a regular basis, but I’m hopeful that as I get further along with my work in progress story, I’ll have more to talk about.

I spent some time updating the website with information on my new work in progress. While Colder Weather took place in Iowa and had a Winter theme, my new novel – code name TBH – takes place in Florida and will have a Summer theme.  You can check out TBH’s page here, and I have the beginnings of a playlist built here. I currently have seven chapters written into the skeleton version of the novel, and I’m looking forward to fleshing it out more once the first pass is completed.

I’m also excited to announce that I’ve been invited to join the Kindred Ink Collective.  I’m looking forward to being a part of this wonderful group and supporting authors Shannon Taylor Hodnett and Julia J Simpson as they work toward getting their second novels printed as well.

Besides writing, I’ve really gotten into photography.  I purchased my first DSLR camera – a Nikon D5600 – and I’ve been exploring the different settings, with mixed results.  I’ve learned that if the photo is important, use one of the auto settings for now, but I’m also having a good time figuring out all the manual settings that are available on my camera.  You can find my photography here if you’re interested.  All photos are taken with my Nikon D5600, iPhone 7plus/iPhoneXs, or credited if not mine.

That’s about it for now.  Thanks for reading. 💖

 

Good Eats

Good Eats – 9/1/2018

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated my website.  I had all sorts of ideas planned to feature after Colder Weather was published, but between work, raising a teenage boy, and everyday ups and downs, I wasn’t able to work on any of those posts.  This doesn’t mean I wasn’t able to accomplish other writing tasks, but the website updates kind of fell to the wayside, while I wrote an article for an online magazine and beta read novels for three people over the Summer.

One of the things that I struggle with is making sure that my family has something good to eat for dinner and with our busy schedules, sometimes we cheat and grab something from a local restaurant or order in pizza, but that gets old after a while.  I’ve turned to my crockpot and Pinterest for help and decided to share some of those recipes with you in a segment called Good Eats.

If you can’t guess from my last name, my husband is of Puerto Rican descent. Whenever we visit his mom, she always makes what has become a favorite meal for us, and I’ve found a recipe that is close enough to hers to come in a close second.

Bistec Encebollado

I’ve modified the recipe in the link above to make an easy, delicious meal that my boys love.   I use beef for stew from our local grocery store.  It’s already cut up in nice, bite-sized chunks and perfect for marinating.  The other thing I cheat on is my grocery store offers already cut up onions.  You can get them in rings or chopped.  I switch back and forth between these depending on what’s available, but both work well.

You’ll need:

  • Beef for stew – I normally use one package as there are only three of us
  • 1 container onions – chopped or in rings – or you can cut an onion if you choose.  For three people, 2 large onions are too much, so if you use the recipe in the link, you’ll want to determine what is right for your family.
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced Garlic – you can either use fresh or dried.  This doesn’t seem to affect the end result, so it’s a matter of preference or time.
  • 1 pinch dried Oregano – I’m a little more liberal with oregano and just shake a decent amount into the bag.  Again, this is a matter of preference.
  • 1 package of Sazon seasoning (.18 oz)
  • 1/4 cup White Vinegar
  • 1 can of Swanson’s beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon Salt

You’ll need a large Ziploc bag to combine all of the ingredients in.  I normally start with the beef, add the dry ingredients, then vinegar, olive oil, and beef stock.  Once all of your ingredients are added, remove the excess air from the bag, zip it closed, then mix everything around until all of the meat is evenly covered.  After that, it’s ready to go into the refrigerator.  I recommend putting the bag on a plate or in a bowl to prevent any issues if the bag should have a problem.  (Mine never has, but better safe than sorry.)

Marinate the steak for a minimum of four hours or up to several days. Usually, I get the bag ready on Monday night and put it in the crockpot on Wednesday or Thursday.

On the day you’re ready to eat this yummy goodness, put the entire mixture into your crockpot, stir it, and let it cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

My mother-in-law serves it with the best yellow rice I’ve ever tasted, but I haven’t had a chance to experiment with a recipe for it yet, so I use white rice.

That’s it.  If you decide to try it, please let me know how it turned out.  💖

 

writing

Writing Update – July 7, 2018

Hello!  I’ve meant to sit down and type up an update (as well as other blog posts) for quite a while now.  I had initially planned to do several posts about my experience in independently publishing my first novel, but time just seems to get away from me.

While I was editing Colder Weather, I started looking forward to what my next book would be and had two choices.  Story 1 was a little harder to figure out all the logistics, and then Story 2 popped up.  In theory, this was going to be the easier of the two, so I decided to shelf Story 1 and work on Story 2.

Both Story 1 and Story 2 are going to take place in summery, island type settings, so when we decided to spend a few days in Sanibel, I knew that it would be the perfect place to gather some details for either one.  By the time we were heading home, Story 2 was really starting to build in my brain.

There usually are two types of writers in the world.  Planners and Pansters.  I’m a Panster.  I write everything without knowing what’s going to happen next or only having a vague idea of how it will end.  It’s always worked for me, but I really wanted to try being a Planner.  Or at least a Planster (half planner/half panster) if I could.  I wanted to build the world my characters would live in, create character analyses, know where the story was going and how it was going to end.  While this was all good in theory, I found myself struggling with getting it done.  I signed up for some free resources on Well-Storied and for the first few days, wrote what I could, and found life getting in the way of my planning.

I’d over-extended myself.  I was asked to review a short book.  To write an article for an online magazine.  (And I’ve loved every minute of being able to step outside of my comfort zone and try these things.)  I volunteered to beta read a novel for someone I don’t know, while also beta reading for two of my dear friends.  Sometimes I would get on the laptop, do the things I needed to do for others, then just stare at my own stuff, wondering why I wasn’t writing.  As I finished the things above, I went back to world building and fleshed out something rather spectacular (hopefully) for Story 2, but I couldn’t sit and work on my character analysis like I wanted.  It was frustrating.

But then Story 1 poked its head out of the sand and gave me some significant information.  I filed them away in my brain, intent on working on Story 2, but Story 1 wasn’t having it.  More details came in, got filed, and still no writing was accomplished.  Finally, I decided I would just write the little fluff piece of backstory that was running amuck in my brain and that really set some things in motion.  Story 1 was not the plan.  But as my friend Julia told me, “the plan is whatever you make it”  and this freed me up to really allow myself to just let whatever happened, happen.

In the course of two days, several pieces have come together and I wrote the beginning chapter on my phone because it wouldn’t leave me alone when I was trying to sleep.  So apparently I’m just always going to be a Panster.  I don’t know how this story is going to end, but it wants to be written.  It is not satisfied to wait until Story 2 gets done.  It’s not even satisfied to wait until I work on all those blog posts I wanted to do.

So here’s to Story 1, flying along by the seat of its pants, ready and eager to be told.  I hope it’s a good one.

Thanks for reading! 💖

CW

Colder Weather Book Blurb

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When sixteen-year-old Emma Jordan unexpectedly runs into her childhood crush, Jace Brown, old feelings come surging back to life with new intensity. As the snow falls and winter closes in, Emma’s world opens up as she navigates first love, changing friendships, and family tension. But young love rarely lasts forever. As Jace deals with changes in his own life and follows his dreams, will their relationship stand the test of time? Or will Jace keep drifting in and out of Emma’s life just like the colder weather?

writing

Writing Update 4/13/18

It’s been an eventful week.

Every spare moment has been spent working on my novel. A few weeks ago, I decided to use some editing software to assist with cleaning up each chapter during the second round of editing. After trying some free apps, as well as one that I paid for, that didn’t do what I thought it would, I finally decided to pull the trigger and purchase Grammarly. They have a free version, but the paid version was so much more robust, and it’s been worth it so far. I pasted each chapter into Grammarly, then once the edits were complete, added them to Pressbooks. While this might seem like overkill to some, I liked the way Grammarly pointed out overused words, passive voice, and punctuation. I didn’t always take the suggestions it recommended, but toward the end, I was getting into a good flow, and I think this made my novel better. I started seeing my own issues. Things that might not bother anyone else, but seemed off to me. Currently, all the chapters are in Pressbooks, and I have a good idea of what the page count might be at this point. I’m going through a final round of editing, and then my critique partner, Julia, will go through it for one last read.

My other exciting news is that I have a book cover now. That was an exciting process to go through, and I’ll probably do a separate post on it near or after the book is released.

Speaking of when it’s going to be released, I think at this point, realistically, it will be in early to mid-May .

I’ve had a request to review my experience with Pressbooks, and I think I’m also going to do Grammarly, and Createspace as well after the book is published. It will be from my perspective as a new writer.

If there is anything else you would like to see here or questions you have, please feel free to let me know.

Thanks for reading! 💖

writing

Writing Update – 4/5/18

My novel is moving forward at a brisk pace now. The first round of editing is complete, and as part of round two of cleaning everything up, I’m also posting chapters into Pressbooks as I go.

While some parts of Pressbooks are confusing and even frustrating, it is fun too. I’ve changed the font of the book several times until I found one that I’ve settled on using. I also found a lovely little page divider on Etsy that is perfect for the book’s theme. So far ten chapters have been added to Pressbooks, and I’m able to export the book to a . pdf file after each one so I can see how it will look in print.

I’m hopeful that in the next few weeks, I’ll have all the chapters uploaded and will start proofing that final version. Once that’s complete, my critique partner will look it over one more time, and then I’ll be ready to move onto the next step, which will get my novel one step closer to a publishing date.

Thanks for reading!💖

writing

Writing Update – 3/17/2018

I’m excited to announce that I’ve finished my first pass through my novel.  It was rather satisfying to see the words The End at the bottom of my document.  While several chapters are still out to my critique partner – including at least one that needs a rewrite – I’m still excited that this hurdle has been overcome.

When I first decided to publish this novel, I knew I was coming into it blindly, but didn’t realize all the ups and downs that I’d be encountering.  The first one was realizing that some chapters didn’t fit or weren’t good enough to be read by anyone other than my wonderful critique partner.  When it came to the first chapter that needed a complete overhaul, I didn’t think I could do it and I stared anxiously at my screen, feeling rather helpless.  Once I got over my fear, I turned on some music, and just started writing.  Whole paragraphs were changed, moved, or replaced, and the end result?  A better chapter.  One I didn’t know existed.  And one I didn’t think I had the ability to create.

When two more chapters were combined into one I wasn’t as scared this time. I had the evidence to prove that it could be done.  Then a missing scene had to be added into the middle of another chapter.  The end result was something that created depth to the story and interlinked some major and minor plots into place.

So what’s next?  Another round of reviewing and editing.  I’ve highlighted several sections that I want to spend more time looking over.  I’ve also found that I use certain words and descriptions a lot and I want to clean them up as well.  In late March I’ll work with a designer to come up with a cover for this baby and I think that process will make all of this seem more real to me.

I don’t have a timeframe yet for when the book will be published.  I don’t want to set a deadline that is unrealistic when I’ve never been through this process before.  I’m luckier than most first time authors.  My awesome critique partner, Julia J Simpson went through this for the first time last year with her novel Ashes Swept and she’s been a godsend in helping me with everything.  I really couldn’t do it without her.

Thanks for reading!💖